Traditional embroidery promotes 'China chic' in global fashion

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 11, 2023
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Pan Yuzhen, a 77-year-old embroiderer, was thrilled to do the catwalk show in her hand-made Miao costumes last week in Guiyang, capital of southwest China's Guizhou Province.

At the opening ceremony of the 17th Guizhou Tourism Industry Development Conference held on April 6, a fashion show featuring signature local ethnic cultures drew rounds of camera flashes capturing images of the delicate Miao embroidery on the latest collection.

Pan, of the Miao ethnic group, hails from Taijiang County, Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture.

She learned the embroidery art from her mother at the age of 5 as an ethnic tradition. But it was way beyond her expectation that the folk craft could present itself on stages at world-famous fashion weeks as it does nowadays and that the embroideries created by her could one day be spotted in the daily lives of families across China as household products, which is now the case.

Pan has been to five foreign countries, including the United States, France and the United Kingdom. "Foreigners love our embroideries. They were even willing to queue hundreds of meters long at Christmas, just to buy an embroidered notebook or ornament for their families," she said.

Xia Hua, chairman of Eve Group, a Chinese clothing brand, has been devoted to promoting the intangible cultural heritage of China's embroidery industry for more than three decades.

Over the past decade, Xia and her team have been committed to the digitalization of ethnic handicrafts and have established databases on Chinese traditional embroidery patterns and ethnic artisans.

So far, her company has collected more than 8,000 kinds of embroidery patterns and information about more than 22,000 embroiderers, which has laid a solid foundation for building a digital industrial base for embroidery.

"Access to embroidery patterns and embroiderers enables global designers to find appropriate cooperative partners to design and create relevant products," Xia said.

Xia's company has teamed up with more than 400 world-renowned brands, including Burberry and over 1,000 international designers, boosting the development of more than 400 small and medium-sized enterprises in China.

Since 2017, her company has helped more than 1,700 embroiderers just like Pan to venture beyond the deep mountains to showcase their handicrafts abroad.

Xia still remembers the first time she and her embroiderers walked onto London Bridge and into Buckingham Palace. The nearby tourists all stopped to enjoy their ethnic costumes and folk song performances.

The ethnic minority women, once stuck in China's mountainous areas for generations, became "big stars" that day and attracted many people who rushed to take pictures with them.

"Our handicrafts are well-recognized and loved by tourists at home and abroad, giving us rising confidence," said Pan.

At a bazaar held in central China's Wuhan a few years earlier, the sales volume of her embroidery products amounted to more than 600,000 yuan (about 87,255 U.S. dollars) in a single day, she added.

Through creative innovation and cooperation with global designers, the local embroiderers have integrated the old craft with modern fashion items including clothing, high heels, bags, and household supplies, with over 10,000 varieties of products launched so far.

"We will combine standardized product models and our traditional crafts to roll out modern and fashionable products, bringing the 'China chic' from deep in the mountains to the global stage," Xia said.

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